1. The properties of membrane vesicles from the extreme thermophile Bacillus caldolyticus were investigated. 2. Vesicles prepared by exposure of spheroplasts to ultrasound contained cytochromes a, b and c, and at 50°C they rapidly oxidized NADH and ascorbate in the presence of tetramethyl-p-phenylenediamine. Succinate and l-malate were oxidized more slowly, and dl-lactate, l-alanine and glycerol 1-phosphate were not oxidized. 3. In the absence of proton-conducting uncouplers the oxidation of NADH was accompanied by a net translocation of H+ into the vesicles. Hydrolysis of ATP by a dicyclohexylcarbodi-imide-sensitive adenosine triphosphatase was accompanied by a similarly directed net translocation of H+. 4. Uncouplers (carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone or valinomycin plus NH4+) prevented net H+ translocation but stimulated ATP hydrolysis, NADH oxidation and ascorbate oxidation. The last result suggested an energy-conserving site in the respiratory chain between cytochrome c and oxygen. 5. Under anaerobic conditions the reduction of cytochrome b by ascorbate (with tetramethyl-p-phenylenediamine) was stimulated by ATP hydrolysis, indicating an energy-conserving site between cytochrome b and cytochrome c. However, no reduction of NAD+ supported by oxidation of succinate, malate or ascorbate occurred, neither did it with these substrates in the presence of ATP under anaerobic conditions, suggesting that there was no energy-conserving site between NADH and cytochrome b. 6. Succinate oxidation, in contrast with that of NADH and ascorbate, was strongly inhibited by uncouplers and stimulated by ATP hydrolysis. These effects were not observed when phenazine methosulphate, which transfers electrons from succinate dehydrogenase directly to oxygen, was present. It was concluded that in these vesicles the oxidation of succinate was energy-dependent and that the reoxidation of reduced succinate dehydrogenase was dependent on the outward movement of H+ by the protonmotive force. 7. In support of the foregoing conclusion it was shown that the reduction of fumarate by NADH was an energy-conserving process. 8. If the activities of vesicles accurately represent those of the intact organism it appears that in B. caldolyticus the reduction of fumarate to succinate at the expense of reducing equivalents from NADH is energetically favoured over succinate oxidation even under aerobic conditions. This may be related to the need for an ample supply of succinate for haem synthesis in order to provide cytochromes for the organism.

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